Moeen Ali and Mark Wood were the star performers for England Lions as wickets tumbled on the opening day of the tourists’ match against Sri Lanka A Emerging Players in Colombo.
England captain Chris Woakes won the toss, but Worcestershire batsman Moeen was the only player to reach 50 in a total of 201 all out as off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal excelled with a return of 5-57 from 13.4 overs.
Woakes removed Udara Jayasundera with the fifth ball of the home team’s replay and debutant Wood came to the fore with three wickets, including half-centurion Bhanuka Rajapaksa shortly before Sri Lanka closed on 92 for four.
Opening batsman Sam Robson, also making his Lions bow, was trapped lbw for 15 by seamer Ishan Jayaratne and the same bowler secured another important breakthrough as he had James Taylor cheaply caught at the wicket.
Varun Chopra’s departure for a watchful 21 began Kaushal’s excellent day’s work, the spinner earning a leg-before verdict to remove James Vince shortly after Moeen’s arrival to leave England 90 for four.
Moeen and Jonny Bairstow set about brisk rebuilding job - dominated by the Yorkshireman, who pleasingly peppered the boundary during a 39-ball 32.
Woakes soon followed Bairstow back to the pavilion without scoring, leaving Moeen with the tail.
He found a willing ally in Ollie Rayner, the rangy Middlesex spinner matching Bairstow’s contribution and adding a valuable 45 for the ninth wicket alongside Wood after Moeen became Chatura Randunu’s second scalp for 53.
The procession continued when Sri Lanka began their response as Wood followed Woakes’ early breakthrough by disturbing Pabasara Waduge’s stumps to reduce them to 15 for two.
Rajapaksa then began a thrilling counter-attack, unconcerned by the subsequent loss of skipper Angelo Perera.
His 57-ball 60 contained seven fours and two sixes, with Tymal Mills and Scott Borthwick suffering under the assault.
But Borthwick would have the final word by pouching an astonishing third catch of the innings to dismiss the dangerman and hand Durham team-mate Wood a richly-deserved third wicket.
It was a truly a stunning effort as Borthwick athletically made up ground before taking the ball over his shoulder with his back turned.